April 21, 2017 In the News

State Senate Unanimously Passes Bipartisan Bill To Protect Law Enforcement, Victims From Prohibited Persons Illegally Trying To Buy Guns

Last Minute Vote by State Senate Passed House Bill 1501 Ahead of Sunday Deadline

Lauded as Cornerstone Gun Violence Prevention Policy, the Passage of House Bill 1501 Represents Landmark Session for Gun Responsibility in Olympia

Olympia, WA – The Alliance for Gun Responsibility applauded the State Senate for bringing House Bill 1501, the Law Enforcement and Safety Bill, to a vote and passing the legislation unanimously. Republican Senate leadership did not vote on the bill prior to last week’s chamber cutoff, throwing the bill’s fate into doubt and prompting a public outcry. The bipartisan legislation had support from law enforcement and victims’ advocates, and had already passed two Senate committees, as well as the House of Representatives by a vote of 84-13.

The bill now returns to the House of Representatives for a final vote.

The Law Enforcement and Victim Safety bill will notify law enforcement and victims when felons, domestic abusers and other ineligible people illegally attempt to purchase guns. This will give victims an opportunity to proactively take steps to keep themselves and their families safe. The bill will also provide police the tools and funding authority to investigate illegal attempts to buy guns. Currently, there are over 3,000 illegal attempts to buy a gun in Washington every year.

“We are thrilled that the state Senate did the right thing by holding a vote on the Law Enforcement and Victim Safety bill, passing this meaningful legislation that will help save the lives of women and children here in Washington,” said Renée Hopkins, CEO of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. “This caps off the most substantive session for gun responsibility bills in recent memory and would not have been possible without our gun responsibility champions in state government, broad coalition and partnership support and the unprecedented public activism we’ve seen in Olympia and across the state.”

In addition to House Bill 1501, the Legislature made additional progress for gun responsibility this session. Dangerous Access Prevention legislation advanced farther through the legislative process than ever before, and Enhanced Assault Weapons Background Check legislation was introduced that raised the purchase age for assault weapons to 21 and required safety training. Other gun violence prevention milestones include:

  • This session saw the largest number of bipartisan co-sponsors for gun responsibility legislation and set a record for the number of co-sponsors for a gun responsibility bill (HB 1122).
  • The House Judiciary Committee heard legislation on reducing the ease of access to deadly assault weapons (HB 1387) and passed legislation to prevent dangerous access to unsafely stored firearms (HB 1122) and to keep crime guns off the street (HB 1483) out of Committee.
  • The Republican-controlled Senate heard, but took no action on, legislation to prevent suicide (SB 5441) and allow individuals to voluntarily waive their firearm rights during a period of crisis (SB 5553).

While the Alliance’s legislative victories built on the overwhelming passage of 2016’s Initiative 1491 and its sustained volunteer movement, the organization recognizes there have been challenges. Several commonsense bills, including those overwhelmingly supported by the public or requested by law enforcement that would limit dangerous individuals’ access to guns, were blocked.

“We are encouraged by the strong bipartisan support from Washington voters and legislators this session, but are also disappointed that we still don’t have overwhelming support from the Legislature on many commonsense policies that balance rights and responsibilities,” said Hopkins. “The truth is that until we have a gun responsibility majority in the Legislature, Washington State citizens will have to force legislators to take gun violence seriously.”

The Alliance for Gun Responsibility’s full 2017 Policy Agenda is available here.

About the Alliance for Gun Responsibility

The Alliance for Gun Responsibility works to end the gun violence crisis in our community and to promote a culture of gun ownership that balances rights with responsibilities. Through collaboration with experts, civic leaders, and citizens, we work to find evidenced-based solutions to the crisis of gun violence in our community. We create innovative policy, advocate for changes in laws, and promote community education to reduce gun violence. Learn more at www.gunresponsibility.org and follow us at @WAGunResponsib.